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Officials: Live Asian carp discovered near Lake Michigan

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A live Asian carp has been discovered in a Chicago waterway about nine miles from Lake Michigan — well beyond an electric barrier network designed to prevent the invasive fish that have infested the Mississippi River system from reaching the Great Lakes, officials said Friday.

The silver carp was 28 inches long and weighed about 8 pounds, officials with the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee said. It was caught Thursday by a commercial fisherman under contract with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources about 2 miles below the below the T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam in the Calumet River, on Chicago’s south side.

The location is 34 miles closer to Lake Michigan than silver carp previously were known to have reached, said Charlie Wooley, Midwest deputy regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Silver carp are among four types of Asian carp threatening to invade the lakes, where scientists say they could compete with native species, unravel aquatic food chains and devastate the region’s $7 billion fishing industry.

Even so, officials cautioned the discovery doesn’t mean Asian carp have become established in the rivers and canals between the barriers and the Great Lakes, or in the lakes themselves. It’s more likely the carp was a loner that somehow made its way into the Chicago area, Wooley said.

“This is concerning but it’s not a three-alarm fire right now and we don’t expect it to be,” he said in an interview.